Posted: 12:40 pm Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Without Hunt-Days, Tech’s options at rush end 

By Ken Sugiura

With Georgia Tech defensive end Jabari Hunt-Days out of the picture for the 2014 season due to academic ineligibility, the Yellow Jackets will likely look to two players to take his spot at the rush-end position.

Early-enrollee freshman KeShun Freeman impressed during spring practice and was praised more than once by coach Paul Johnson for his playmaking.

“I think KeShun’s done well all spring,” he said during the spring. “He’s played good all spring, in my mind. He stood out to me from the first time we played, just motor and feed and that kind of thing.”

Safety Jamal Golden noticed how quickly Freeman picked up the defense and was able to play fast.

“He’s just a baller,” Golden said. “Just making plays when the ball’s around him.”

Whitehead is finishing up at Georgia Military College, where he has spent the past year after leaving N.C. State. Whitehead, you may remember, was the No. 25 defensive end (according to Rivals) in the 2012 signing class out of M.L. King High in Lithonia.

Whitehead remains on track to graduate from GMC. He’ll have to earn his associates degree before he can transfer to Tech. Whitehead had to accelerate his schedule in order to graduate at the end of summer and be eligible to transfer in time to play in the fall.

“He does have an overfull load, frankly,” GMC coach Bert Williams said. “So far, he has made the progress he’s needed to do. He’s just got a lot of work. He’s pressing pretty hard.”

According to the school’s website, classes for the summer term end Aug. 5 and grades are turned in Aug. 7. Assuming he would need to wait until that point before he could enroll at Tech and begin practicing, he would join Tech’s preseason practices about a week after they began. The team opened the preseason Aug. 1 last season.

In case you missed it: Days’ parents willing to pull son from Tech (subscription req’d)

28 comments
LongBeachJacket
LongBeachJacket

Cautious optimism is always best course at this stage. 


I really expect the Defense to continue to be better overall.  No matter how talented, one player (gained or lost) should not make the overwhelming difference if the collective unit plays together.  If all 11 do their job then whoever is in the right spot to make a big play will make it.  And it may be different players each game.


So far  as Offense is concerned, whatever the ups and downs have been, it has always been generally productive overall.  Too bad about Custis, but if he was struggling in first semester with academics, it's probably better that he move elsewhere.  I can tell you this, the young man coming in from N. Gwinnett,  CJ Leggett, will not be having academic issues.  He already moves up the chart with Custis departure.  I don't know who we have behind Laskey...Perkins?, but now it is likely Leggett will see the field this year at B-Back. Hope he is already preparing for that opportunity.  Not just to survive, but to EXCEL!!!  Go Jackets!!!

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

AugustaJacket......well, if the base offense is better, everybody over at GT will also be happy, since that is 80% of the overall plays are run out of that base.  So much different than most Div 1 teams.  Nine wins would be a very successful season indeed!

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

AugustaJacket......You will get better and either QB will make a difference if they are quick of mind and feet.  If that happens the passing game will be improved.  Another reason to be encouraged is that Ted Roof is still running the defense!!!!  I must say, some GT fans sure can be overly negative.  Even more so than my beloved UGA brothers and sisters.  Why is that?

Go Dawgs

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

Fingers crossed on the Whitehead situation. Roof needs this kid's talents in a huge way.

At least the back seven on D this year should be strong enough to make up for the mistakes we will surely see across the play of a young D-line. We HAVE to make it through summer practice injury free and add Whitehead.

On offense, Custis was going to be the B-back for the brutal 2015 schedule. Need to get Wilson and Leggett ready for that role now with plenty of touches. We should see them a lot in the first three games. Next man up I guess, but the Custis loss was a major "gut punch". (looks like it was known he would be unavailable late in the spring since he was held out of the spring game. I thought that was strange at the time.)

Hopefully at A-back, Andrews gets his act together. IMO, he has the potential to be the best A-back ever for CPJ. Need to get Myles Autry on the field early as well. CPJ needs to start playing for the present time in year seven.  

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

Augusta Jacket.....the breakdown of your team sounds about right except at the QB position.  You won't miss a beat at QB.  Vad was avg at best most of the time.  His play was that of a .500 leader.  Your next signal caller has to be better, your offense is so overly dependent on superior play from that position.  CPJ offense is based on outstanding play immediately after the snap more than any other team in Div 1. 

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

Won't know much until the trip to Blacksburg Sept 20. Then we will learn quite a bit. What questions remain after that game will be answered the following week against Miami at home.

The defense will have to play well this year and keep us out of big deficits. I see us returning to a very ground-based, grind it out attack on offense.

On the downside, I don't think either QB is likely to be able to generate quick scores and come from behind. But on the upside, Tech has played its best games when minimizing the pass, under Johnson. It's not particularly exciting to watch, but the ground game uninterrupted by incomplete passes has historically paid better dividends over the entire game.

Whatever works.

I do think Johnson will run a 2 QB system. The QB who plays the most will be the one who demonstrates the best ball control, which at this point I think is Byerly.

BigTimeTECHFan
BigTimeTECHFan

saw KeShun Freeman in the spring came - he was a beast, I forgot he was a true Frosh. 

He will be a great DE at Tech.

Don't forget:

Tyler Stargel - He looked real good also

Chaz Cheeks & Roderick Rook-Chungong  Cheeks & Chungong will smoke some OL

Nick Menocal - played real good as freshman and made couple of nice sacks filling in for JHD, was expecting a lot from him last year but he did not play as much as expected


Also Travin Henry is putting on the weight, needs about 10 more pounds and he will be a beast at DE.


GTLee
GTLee

Golf team had 4 shot lead before rain halted play.....Go Jackets!

hpt84
hpt84

Whitehead is a much needed addition to our team. He has some serious pass rushing skills.

Born2Buzz
Born2Buzz

Will Francis Kallon finally tap his potential?  He's got Clowney size,now can he get Clowney impact?

Can anybody tell me what he did during Spring practice?

GTfan2013
GTfan2013

Assuming we avoid injuries, I am optimistic about our O-Line.  The top eight guys there are as deep and talented as we've had since CPJ arrived.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one.     If this O-line group stays healthy, every part of our offense looks better.  B-back will be a dominant position, and I could see Laskey easily averaging 6 ypc behind improved line play.  And if those tackles (Griffin and Chamberlin) are able to get out on the perimeter and into the second level, some of our stretch plays (with the QB and the A-backs) can go for even more yards.  And of course all of that coupled with better pass blocking can make even Justin Thomas' adequate arm look really good in the passing game.

Cautiously optimistic is probably the best description I can come up with.

Yellerbug
Yellerbug

If 6.5 wins is the over/under for Tech this year, I'll take the over.  I think we get 8 wins this year---betting on some intangibles, but I believe the D will be good despite the loss of 3 players to the NFL---Goitis should make all-ACC and we have a strong LB and DB talent.  The QB spot and O-line will determine the success on Offense.  I think the tandem of Byerly and Thomas will do well for us if CPJ runs a 2-QB system.  Special teams will do well despite the new coach---get Golden back, have a great kicker, not sure on the punter but we should be fine. If we stay injury-free we should do well.

Yellerbug
Yellerbug

Not a lot of options here.  I hope Freeman is ready and we can find someone on the team with a little experience to back up the position.  Since we're running a 4-2-5, maybe there's another LB that can fill this slot.  We might need to run a 3-3-5.  A critical mistake for Hunt-Days.  Maybe we make all players with a GPA under a 2.3 wear ankle monitors to ensure they are in class---of course that doesn't mean they'd be paying attention, but maybe through osmosis they might learn enough to get by.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@Quackmeyer  I agree.  This years team looks solid.  While maybe not spectacular in any one specific area, (though I think LB play and WR play may be better than expected), it has no glaring areas of weakness.  The schedule this year also sets up nicely for us.  Opening with Wofford, @Tulane & GSU at home should get us to 3-0 out of the gate.  We have VT at home, but they are breaking in a new QB.  We then Have Miami @ home, also with a new QB followed by Duke at home.  @UNC, @Pitt, UVA, @NCSU, Clemson, @uga.  There are lots of new QBs facing us this year, so I think 8 wins minimum, with a chance at 10.  It's really a good year to have a weaker schedule so we can build depth for next years monster schedule.  (@ND, @FSU in addition to uga, Clemson, VT, Miami)

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@Quackmeyer  I tend to agree with you.  The D looks to continue improving under Roof.  I do believe QB play will be better in terms of running the base offense.  I believe we should win 8-9 games with the possibility of an upset or two sweetening the results.  

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@Quackmeyer  I agree we won't miss a beat at QB.  However, last years QB play wasn't spectacular, so that's not saying much.  My point on QB is this:  We don't know how well JT, TB or some combination of both will do.  Just like last year, we start the year with question marks at QB.  

JT appears to be the starter.  So much so that the GTAA had cutouts of him made for season ticket promotions.  We haven't seen him play, however, because he was held out of the spring game.  We've seen flashes from Byerly, but nothing I saw would give me 100% confidence in him as a starter.  


I agree that either QB should improve how the base offense is run comparative to VL last year.  We will miss, however, the possibilities that VL gave us in the passing game.  We give VL a lot of grief for his handling of the offense, but he is a big reason Godhigh was so productive.  Passing to someone 5'6" tall isn't easy.  Vad was able to get it to him.  Sure, overall, VL proved to be more human than most of us expected, but he could sling the ball.  That was never in doubt.  JT and Byerly are serviceable passers, but neither are as talented as VL was.  


Overall, I expect to see JT get about 80% of the snaps, with Byerly spelling him, providing mop up duty  and running a series here and there.  As long as they can make decisions in a hurry, and not dither about at the LOS, then we should be fine.  

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@Yellerbug  While I think I will always disagree with you on the idea of a 2 QB system, I agree with the rest of this.  Year two under CTR has Gotsis coming back, a great LB corps, lots of potential at DE and what should be a vastly upgraded secondary.  Special teams looks to continue improving.


For once, my major concerns are on the offense.  Who steps up and becomes the next go to AB?  We've been spoiled with Allen, Jones, Smith and Godhigh making it look easy.  Hoping Days steps in and takes the job.  WR looks to be a deep position this year, and Laskey at BB should be fine.  I am not as concerned with the OL.  I think they will do well and, collectively, I think this might be the biggest OL we have had in a while.  BB depth and QB play are my biggest question marks for the team.  BB depth is where the Custis loss stings.  As for the QB play, the loss of Vad puts us back where we were starting last season.  I see what should be 8-9 wins on this years schedule.  As long as either JT or Byerly can run the base offense well, I see no reason we can't win 8.  

ricojack
ricojack

@Yellerbug  funny you should mention ankle monitors, that is what it is coming to in the NCAA, primarily SEC players, who will be wearing ankle monitors because these schools could care less if they have broken  the law as long as they can play  on Saturday

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@Yellerbug  It's not as bleak as it seems.  Freeman has impressed so far, and Whitehead should be capable as well.  Antonio Simmons and Tyler Merriweather are also incoming freshman DE's.  Simmons, in particular, was seeing a lot of interest as a recruit and was listed as a possible "flip" candidate by may services.  And that's just the new guys.  There are several guys already on the roster and I believe Travin Henry was flipping to WDE as well.  Yes, losing JHD for a year stinks, but it's not the end of the world.  IMO, losing Custis hurts FAR worse, and even that isn't necessarily a season killer.



Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

Lol... Relatively we did last year, with Vad throwing on 1st and 2nd down situations. The INT thrown on 1st or 2nd down against UGA in a short yardage situation last year was a game changer, and in hind-sight, with a lead was a poor call.

Yellerbug
Yellerbug

@AugustaJacket @Yellerbug I agree Freeman should do well. I'm worried that Whitehead may not make it---seems he is carrying a load to finish and even if he graduates, he will get to Fall practice a week late. I agree that Custis is a bigger loss although Laskey runs the ball well.  May need to move Snoddy back to B-back.  I don't know how often CPJ calls certain plays to maximize the talent of the personnel on the field, but I hope he does design some special plays to try to get Snoddy the ball in open space---swing pass, bubble screen etc.  It's just disappointing--we have enough challenges without making unforced errors.  As a former commanding officer of mine use to tell young sailors who got into trouble, "Life is tough, it's even tougher when you're stupid."

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Birmingham__Jacket No, I never watch or understand what's happening on the field.   Sheesh.   


The point is - again - you got your facts wrong and you complain irrespective of results.   Period.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Birmingham__Jacket  I guess the point was that it wasn't short yardage.   Must be nice to be an armchair quarterback, though.   You gripe when we run the ball too much and you gripe when we throw.   

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@GeorgeStein

Exactly.  While that is a typical passing situation for most good offenses, Johnson usually keeps it on the ground, and should have with a lead.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@Yellerbug @AugustaJacket  I understand the worry, but remember, KW has two seasons of college ball under his belt already.


As for BB, leave Soddy at A-Back, where his speed will be better utilized.  Laskey can be a workhorse, and you also have CJ Leggett coming in.  He has a LOT of potential as a BB.